Once you build your WordPress website, you are only partially done. Think of it like buying a handheld razor: buying the handle is just the beginning. You need to change and buy blades regularly to keep a clean shave. The same is true for your website: The real work begins once the site is live. Below, we cover the seven most important WordPress site maintenance activities and provide one expert tip for each.
Secure your site like it was a bank vault
Your number one priority is to keep your site secure. Security is critical if you are gathering visitor emails or any other personal information. To keep your site secure, limit the number of plugins and themes. Remove any unused theme or plugin. Website attackers go for default settings first, so remove or rename any default account.
Expert tip: Rename the login URL to something other than /wp-admin.
Like a cop facing an unknown threat, have a backup
Mishaps happen. Backups are your best protection if you accidentally break your site or delete essential files while doing maintenance. You can backup manually, but it’s better to automate it. Automated backups are best because, let’s face it, the day you need your backup is the day you will realise that you forgot to take one.
Expert tip: Keep (and verify) a copy of your backups on your PC or personal disk drive.
The faster, the better
As Google moves on to mobile-first indexing, loading speed becomes critical. If you do not manage your site’s loading speed, it will be harder to find you with Google searches. To increase speed, install a cache plugin, optimise your images, and, if necessary, change host providers. If you can afford it, use dedicated hosting instead of shared hosting.
Expert tip: Disable linking to your images from external sites.
Website content is king
If users find you through search engines, the worst thing that can happen is that they take a quick look and then hightail it out of there. This behaviour happens if your site is hard to navigate or if the content is uninspiring and outdated. To maintain higher rankings in search engines, add content regularly and make it good enough to keep users interested.
Expert tip: To rank higher on search engines, structure your links accordingly.
Keep everything up-to-date
WordPress is an ever-moving platform with regular updates that add new features or remove known security issues. The same is true for themes and plugins. Review your plugins and themes regularly and update them with newer versions. Request automatic updates when they are available. An automatic update can break your website if there is an incompatibility with the previous version. Take time to make sure everything is still working after an update.
Expert tip: Have a staging site to test major updates before making them available online.
Like a car manufacturer, have a site maintenance calendar
New cars come with a maintenance plan. Although you don’t have to follow it, doing so ensures that your vehicle lasts longer. WordPress sites need a similar maintenance plan. Doing it on your own can be eye-opening, and it develops your skills. It can even lead to a new career if you enjoy it. Be aware, it can be very time-consuming.
Expert tip: Like the pros, subscribe to a WordPress site maintenance plan.
Unlike tax audits, learn to love site audits
Even if you take all the precautions above, you still need to perform regular audits of your site. Some themes or plugins may not have been updated in a long time. Is it because they no longer have any bugs? Have new ones replaced them? Or—as happens too often—has the developer stopped maintaining the theme or plugin?
Other items to check:
- Is your site still as responsive as when you first set it up, or have various additions made it slower or more cumbersome?
- Finally, has some content become stale because it hasn’t been updated in a while? Is the information still valid?
A regular audit will identify some of these issues and help you decide which ones to address and which to ignore.
Expert tip: Remove all pages with no inbound or outbound links.
If you have specific questions about maintaining your website or if you would like to discuss our WordPress site maintenance plans, contact us. We would be happy to discuss it with you.